03/19/15 11:00am

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On Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, I was doing what you’re supposed to do on that holiday — happily enjoying a pint at my local with an old friend. Then all of a sudden, everything started flashing red. I’d only had a few sips of my first beer at that point, so it couldn’t have been the alcohol. Looking outside, a massive deployment of FDNY personnel were observed, so I grabbed my camera and made apologies to my friend – I had to get to work.

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03/16/15 10:30am

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Last Tuesday, which you’ll recall as being one of the first days of tolerable weather in months, I decided to go for a little walk right here in Astoria. My destination was St. Michael’s Cemetery, which is found around a mile from HQ. Happily, there was still snow on the ground despite it being the balmy lower 50s – and happier still – it was somewhat overcast so I didn’t have to struggle to control an over abundance of light striking the reflective snow.

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03/02/15 11:00am

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Yesterday’s storm was officially the moment at which I, for one, have had it with this never ending winter. As my ennui is tantamount to becoming that proverbial monkey shaking a fist at the moon, the only reaction I can offer is that I need to see some bright, saturated color right now or I just might bury myself in the snow and disappear. Accordingly, in today’s post, “Scenes from Queens,” all of which were captured during warmer times.

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02/26/15 11:00am

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Back in 2013, I wrote a Q’Stoner post about Hallets Cove that offered “Two aboriginal realtors named Shawestcont and Erramorhar (as witnessed by their cohorts Warchan and Kethcanaparan) sold much of what we know as Astoria (but which they called Sintsinck) to William Hallett (who was similarly accompanied by a company of witnesses and countrymen) on August 1, 1664.”

The East River frontage — back then it was called the Sound River — which Hallet purchased had a huge waterbody intersecting with the shoreline from upland properties in what we would now call Ravenswood, and it was called Sunswick Creek.

According to the Greater Astoria Historical Society the name of the waterway can be explained as “A drained marsh near the foot of Broadway. Scholars believe it may come from an Indian word ‘Sunkisq’ meaning perhaps ‘Woman Chief’ or ‘Sachem’s Wife.’” For close to 250 years, Sunswick Creek was practically synonymous with this area of Queens, but what happened to it?

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02/23/15 11:00am

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Most don’t survive their third year, but the 5th Annual Queens World Film Festival is about to begin its six-day run on March 17, and it keeps growing and growing. A total of 116 flicks — of all imaginable lengths, themes, and languages — will screen at various venues in Astoria, Jackson Heights, the Kaufman Arts District, and Long Island City this year. But beforehand the organizers are going to hold a special night to introduce some of the filmmakers, festival directors, and special guests as well as show 10 trailers of selected movies. More information and another photo on jump page.

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02/12/15 2:00pm

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On Saturday a dog daycare and boarding facility opened in Astoria with plenty of upscale offerings for Fido. NYC Pet Services will offer lucky pooches their own private rooms with beds and even small TV’s for overnight stays according to DNAinfo. It also offers dog-walking services, grooming and daycare for dogs. The business recently moved from its home of three years on 24th Avenue. It’s on the second floor of this six-story building that went up in 2006.

Dogs Can Play, Lounge and Watch TV at New Astoria Pet Hotel [DNAinfo]

Photo: Google Maps

01/28/15 1:00pm

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Two writers with intimate knowledge of Queens will participate in separate, upcoming enrichment events at the Greater Astoria Historical Society. On Saturday, Adrienne Onofri, who just published the guidebook Walking Queens, will lead a roundtable discussion on two of the borough’s hottest neighborhoods, Astoria and Long Island City. This licensed NYC tour guide, who also writes about theater for the Broadway World blog, will then sell and sign copies of her new book, which describes 30 routes to discover Queens on foot.

On Monday, Q’Stoner writer Kevin Walsh, a historian who also runs the Forgotten NY blog, will take attendees on an indoor tour of classic New York City storefront signs — with the help of slides. They come in all shapes and sizes and contain words in countless colors and fonts. Plus, some storefront signs have wacky and/or fascinating stories.

Saturday details: Discussion on Hot Neighborhoods and Book Signing, Greater Astoria Historical Society, Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, Fourth Floor, Astoria/Long Island City, January 31st, 1 pm, free.

Monday details: Kevin Walsh on Storefronts, GAHS, February 2nd, 7 pm, $5.
Photo: Kevin Walsh
01/05/15 11:00am

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As you may have noticed, I have a bit of a “thing” for cool cars. Remember that 1957 Pontiac Star Chief in Astoria I told you about, or the 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe spotted nearby Mt. Zion Cemetery at the border of Woodside and Maspeth? Most recently, I pointed out a 1947 Dodge which was innocuously parked in industrial Maspeth.

Sometimes, I barely have to leave the house to spot one of these vintage or classic rides, as is the case with this 1980 Pontiac Trans Am, which is a regular visitor to my own block in Astoria.

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12/22/14 11:00am

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Everybody has their own holiday traditions. Having grown up in a Jewish family, I was always left out of the whole Christmas thing. Saying that, my family had a December tradition of piling into the car and checking out the decorations which the “goyem” had deployed. My family wasn’t unique in this, of course. A girlfriend in high school’s family actually gave the practice of driving around the neighborhood seeking Christmas lights into something they called “Klooking.” The name came from the kids saying “Look Look Look” which soon became LOOKLOOKLOOOK as they drew close to a particularly outlandish display.

Just the other night, I convinced a friend to drive around Astoria for a while, and go “Klooking.” Here’s some of what we saw while driving around the neighborhood.

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12/18/14 1:00pm

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The Spanish word “posada” can be translated as “inn” or “lodging” in English. The Spanish-born tradition “Las Posadas is a Christian celebration of the Virgin Mary’s pregnancy that has become very popular in the United States recently. Basically a simulation of the story of Jesus Christ’s nativity, participants parade through public streets like Mary and Joseph allegedly did on Christmas Eve, stopping at various houses to ask for shelter. This Saturday, the Latin American Culture Center of Queens will hold an enactment of Las Posadas with observers strolling through Astoria and making symbolic stops along the way to the ARROW Community Center, where a party will be born.

Details: Las Posadas Celebration, ARROW Community Center, 35-30 35th Street, Astoria, free, for more information, try 718-261-7664 or LACCQ@aol.com.

Photo: Hispanic Culture Online